Why Runners Need To Pay Attention to Their Magnesium Intake

altitude training

Curious about the importance of Magnesium for runners? Then you have come to the right place.

You can take many measures right now to ensure optimal muscle recovery, some of which involve consuming the right nutrients. That’s where Magnesium can help.

Although Magnesium doesn’t draw the same attention as other nutrients, it undoubtedly deserves the spotlight.

This is especially true if you want to improve your performance and recovery.

In this article, I’ll dive into the benefits of Magnesium for runners and how to get enough each day.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

What is Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the essential electrolytes in the human body, and healthy levels are key for the proper function of the heart and nervous system.

Let me explain more.

Magnesium is one the most important micronutrients in your body, where roughly 24 grams of the stuff is found.

About 50 percent of Magnesium is stored in your body and roughly the same in the intracellular space or inside the cell. About 1 percent of the total Magnesium is found in your blood.

This micronutrient is involved in roughly 300 biochemical reactions in your body and is vital for muscle function, energy production, heart health, insulin metabolism, protein synthesis, etc.

For these reasons—and some more—even the tiniest deficiency can impact your running performance and health.

Magnesium Deficient

Although magnesium is one of the most important nutrients in the body, deficiencies are pretty common, especially among runners and other endurance athletes.

Since magnesium is not found in high concentrations in vegetables and fruits, only a few people get enough of it.

Even though the daily allowance is only 420 mg a day for men and 320 mg for women, it’s a rate to have too much Magnesium in the body, so don’t worry about exceeding this level.

The Benefits of Magnesium For runners

So why should runners pay attention to their magnesium intake?

Many reasons. The fact is, Magnesium is likely one of THEE most important minerals in your body.It’s needed for energy production, bone development, and muscle recovery. This micronutrient also protects you from oxidative damage, which is more likely a result of energy produced during training.

Again. Don’t take my word for it. Let’s check out some of the research.

  • Research has found a strong link between increased magnesium intake and bone mineral density in endurance runners.
  • Research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology reported that one week of magnesium supplementation reduced muscle soreness after a 10K downhill trial run.
  • Study out of Nutrients that looked at elite cyclists completing a 21-day event reported that supplementing with magnesium may have provided a protective layer against some of the muscle damage induced by hard training.

I can go on and on but you get the picture. But don’t get me wrong neither. I couldn’t find any strong proof that Magnesium helps improve endurance performance, but it may impact other variables such as muscle health and exercise recovery.

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

Magnesium deficiencies are rampant. A survey has found that over 50 percent of adults were getting less than half of the recommended amount of Magnesium.

So how can you tell if you’re deficient in magnesium?

Simple. Check yourself for signs that you need more Magnesium. These include:

  • Insomnia
  • Frequent headaches
  • Constipation
  • Cramps
  • Low energy
  • Poor recovery following running
  • Depression
  • excessive fatigue
  • Low bone density
  • interrupted sleep
  • inability to lose fat
  • a weakened immune system
  • fatal heart arrhythmias during intense exercise.

You may benefit from upping your magnesium levels if you’re experiencing a few or more of these symptoms.

Deficiencies are Common

Research suggests that about 48 percent of the United States population appears to fall short of satisfying their magnesium needs through their diet alone.

Long-distance runners are especially prone to magnesium shortages because much of it is lost in sweat—usually roughly 2 to 12 mg per liter of sweat. Thus, the more you sweat, the more Magnesium you shed.

How Much Magnesium do you Need?

The recommended daily allowance for Magnesium is around 320 to 420 for adults depending on age, gender, and other variables.

How do you Test For Magnesium

Since only 1 percent of Magnesium is found in the blood, it doesn’t show up well on most blood tests since most of the nutrient is stored in your muscles and bones. For this reason, checking how you feel and your food intake is a better way to measure your needs.

How To Calculate Your Needs

As a general guideline, you might need 3 to 4 mg of Magnesium per pound of body weight. So, for example, a 180-pound runner would need around  540 to 720 mg per day.

You should also keep in mind magnesium needs increase as you age, especially after 30, due to bone loss.

What’s more?

Runners, and athletes in general, may need up to 10 to 20 percent more.

How To Improve Your Levels

Before you order supplements, try to boost the amount of magnesium-rich foods in your diet. Shoot for around 300mg to 400mg daily, including plenty of leafy greens in your diet. Keep in mind that the RDA for an adult is around 300 mg to 400 mg daily.

The best food sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, unrefined whole grains, nuts, dark chocolate, and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, lentils, beans, peas, and soy.

Let’s check the amount in one 100-gram serving.

Fruits & veggies

  • Kale: 88mg
  • Green peas: 33mg
  • Avocados: 29mg
  • Spinach; 79mg

Legumes

  • Lentils: 36mg
  • Raw pinto beans: 176mg

Soy products

  • Soybeans: 280mg
  • Tofu: 60mg

Seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds: 590mg
  • Sesame seeds: 350mg
  • Sunflower seeds: 325mg

Nuts

  • Brazil nuts: 350mg
  • Cashew nuts: 250mg
  • Peanuts :160mg
  • Walnuts: 150mg

How To Supplement With Magnesium

Although most people choose to supplement with a pill, when it comes to Magnesium, in some cases, the digestive system may fall short of absorbing nutrients efficiently.

To sidestep this, consider taking skin-absorbed supplements. These are often available in forms like oils, body butter, and flakes that you can add to your bath.

What’s more?

A post-workout magnesium bath is a fantastic way to help release tight muscles and soothe the mind.

Do you need a Magnesium Supplement

Like any other micronutrient, magnesium is also consumed in supplemental form, especially if you cannot meet your required daily intake through diet alone.

Although supplements may have much to offer to those already magnesium-deficient, research has yet to confirm that supplementing with magnesium can consistently improve athletic performance in those with adequate levels.